I buzzed around youtube today looking at violinists' and violists' thumbs, and I thought I'd share some of the highlights. I have restricted my sample to people who play without shoulder rests. I was highly impressed by Primrose's thumb. Gee, do you think that it might be the secret behind his stellar technique?
Compare the way Perlman and Zukerman hold their thumbs. Perlman's moves around like a creature with a mind of its own. Zukerman's is almost always low, kind of like Primrose's thumb. I can't help but notice that Zukerman has the same kind of ease moving around on the viola that Primrose has. Thumb things aside, this Perlman-Zukerman performance of the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia is a thrill from both a musical and a hedonistic standpoint. Oistrakh's thumb stays low some of the time, but he does make an occasional bend here and there. Even the bends in his thumb seem to be deeply connected to the music. There is not enough footage of his left hand here to really analyze how he uses his thumb, but boy is his performance of Clair de Lune gorgeous!
I don't really care for much of what Anne-Sophie Mutter does in her interpretation of the Beethoven "Kreutzer" Sonata, but I admire her technique on the instrument, especially her thumb.
I guess that the only thing I have proven on my quest for finding the perfect thumb in action is that every violinist's and violist's hand is different in size, shape, and strength, and what works for one person might not work for another.
Enough of this. It's time for me to practice.
Tags: violin technique, thumb, Perlman, Zukerman, Oistrakh, Primrose,